LANSING – On Wednesday, the Michigan Senate voted to ban drivers in the state from using or holding their cell phones while operating a vehicle, with the goal of reducing accidents due to distracted drivers.
The main bill in the package passed the Senate 27-11. Seven Republicans joined majority Democrats in support of the proposal. The Senate approved an amendment that would allow the change to take effect June 30, since the package garnered the support of more than two thirds of the members.
The bill now makes its way to Gov. Whitmer’s desk as it already passed the House earlier this month. Bobby Leddy, Whitmer’s spokesman, said the governor supports the proposed ban.
The bill will also make Michigan the 26th state in the nation to adopt this type of law. Currently, Michigan law bars drivers from reading, typing or sending text messages. The new policy will expand the ban and include using a device to make or receive phone calls or to access, read or post on social media.
Under the new law, violators would face the following penalties:
— The first violation would be a $100 fine or 16 community service hours.
— The second violation would be a $250 fine and 24 community service hours.
— The third violation would result in a court-ordered driver improvement course.
There are exceptions for emergency situations, law enforcement or emergency personnel, if you are using a device in a voice operated or hands-free mode and if your device is placed on a dashboard mount.
Senate Transportation Chairwoman Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), called the proposal necessary legislation.
“If we can help save lives, pedestrians, other drivers, the driver themselves, then it’s good policy,” Geiss said.
There were 16,543 crashes in Michigan involving a distracted driver of a motor vehicle in 2021, according to data cited by the Michigan State Police. Those crashes caused 59 deaths, according to the numbers.